Religion and The LGBTQIA+ Community

Religion is quite a touchy topic in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Many people have experienced homophobia, transphobia, and general bigotry in the name of religion. These acts of hate often drive queer people away from religion and spirituality in general. However there are also a lot of people, me included, who actively practice a religion and are a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

In my shoes, being gay and a Christian, I find it hard to find other people like me. You get push back from conservative Christians, and I get push back from people in the LGBTQ+ community who have had bad experiences with church. I wish the queer community was more positive and open about some members being religious. I also think if more LGBTQ+ had experiences at welcoming and affirming churches, they would think differently about Christianity.

There are a lot of people who have been deeply scarred by religious parents or leader, and I would never want to belittle them or act like abuse and bigotry don’t happen in the church. However, I would like to see more conversations taking place about the intersection of faith and gender/sexuality. Lots of people are very cynical about the idea of religion, and like to push their negative feelings onto those who are religious. If you aren’t religious or spiritual or whatever, that’s completely fine and your prerogative. It isn’t your place though to tell others how they should live, or what they should believe. Religious people are always told not to push their religion onto others (and they shouldn’t), so don’t push your lack of beliefs onto me.

There are LGBTQIA+ people of every religion. I hope to see more positivity for queer Christians, Jewish people, Hindu people, muslims, buddhists, and queer people of any other religions, in the near future.

Are you religious?

Were you raised in a certain religion?

 

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When The Happiness Breaks Through

When the happiness breaks through

And the weight of heartache is lifted from my shoulders

My spirit begins to flutter

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I lay down my burdens

And for the first time in too long I’ve let you take them

This sensation is distantly familiar

Oh my does it feel good

You’ve been waiting here all along

but I just come to visit

and I know that should change

I’m tired of making myself feel unwelcome

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My spirit awoke, as cliché as that sounds

My soul feels light

And my inner most being has been lifted

For too long I’ve been trapped

Stuck under neath the weight of it all

And I shut down

Shut you out

The rain poured and I tried to make myself comfortable in these wet clothes

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But you’re my umbrella

In that one shade of yellow that I’ve always felt was too happy

Maybe that’s it

I’m afraid of being happy

Because happy means things could go wrong

Happy means I could crash

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But I already crashed

and never really got up

I only fell further and further into a hole of despair

Reaching for a hand I was not ready to take

Occasionally I’d crawl out only to fall back in

From the unbalanced weight of the boulder on my back

The boulder I let sit there, grasping tightly as you pulled, signaling for me to let go

All my life i’ve been told I’m too stubborn

But I don’t want to be stubborn with you

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This isn’t the first time I’ve been here

I want to say it’s different now

My breaking point was long ago

Yet I’ve continued to shatter

I don’t know how much further I can break

Before the pieces are too hard to put back together

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I hide under a mask of cynicism and small talk

This used to be a character I’d play

But we morphed into one on a dark day long ago

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Part of me always feels silly when we get here

Why hadn’t I done this sooner?

I know the truth but I let the pain over take me

I’ve been running on sarcasm and anger for far too long

Contemplating things that aren’t what I want, aren’t who I am

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Now I rejoice

Praise you till my throat dries and my tears run empty

For the first time in a long time happiness is appealing

Loving and being loved is desired, no needed

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I want to say this will last forever

I want to believe I’ll continue to show up

I’m tired of being a guest within my own soul

There’s some cobwebs to clear sure, I won’t pretend like there isn’t

But when you break through

I want to delight in your name

Lent and Sacrifices

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season. For those who don’t practice Christianity and aren’t aware Lent is the period of forty days before Eater that we “give something up” in order to bring ourselves closer to God.

I have participated in lent many years although it can often be difficult to decide what to give up. A lot of people seem to confuse giving something up, like drinking soda because it isn’t good for your health, as something that  you should refrain from during Lent. While you can give up whatever you choose the ultimate goal of lent is to grow closer with God, not stop a bad habit. If you can replace that bad habit with reading the Bible or prayer then it makes sense to pick the particular habit.

I have made this mistake many times. Giving something up just to give something up completely ignores the meaning of Lent. That doesn’t discredit the motive behind doing it. It’s always good to do things to better your life or get healthier it just isn’t going to change your relationship with God unless you replace it with spending time with him. I’ve given up things like TV or a certain food, but didn’t spend any more time with God than I normally did in the past. That’s why this year I’m giving up negativity.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

I’m can be a pessimist and chronic illness only makes it worse. I want to try to be more positive and put more of my hope in God. My goal is to replace my negativity with prayer and scripture. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but my relationship with God is important to me and I think it will good for my mental health. This will be the first time I’ve really done Lent “the right way,” and tried to strengthen my relationship with God through sacrifice. It isn’t going to be easy and I’m not sure that I can be positive for forty days, but I’m going to work on it.

I’m going to allow myself to be unhappy or upset because that’s just a normal part of being human. What I don’t want to do is wallow in negativity and look at the world pessimistically. Not everything is bad or going to hurt me. I want to try to see the joy in little things and feel happiness on a daily basis, even if it’s for short periods of time.

When I see people who have so much joy and love God so much, I yearn to be like them. Don’t get me wrong I love God and always will, I just don’t feel this sense of joy that other people have. While reading the Bible and praying isn’t going to fix all my problems and make my life perfect I know it always makes me feel more at peace and joyful.

Are you celebrating Lent this season? I’m not Catholic and any Baptist church I’ve ever been to hasn’t done an Ash Wednesday service so I’ve never been to one. Did you go to one, and if so how was it? Let me know what you’ve decided to refrain from during Lent.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Unconditional

Unconditional love is something that I find hard to wrap my head around.

I don’t think most people truly love each other unconditionally. I wouldn’t fault someone for “conditional love,” it isn’t easy to love someone no matter what they do.

In church we use the phrase “God’s unconditional love” a lot. I believe he is truly the only one who can have unconditional love. In Sunday school over the summer we discussed this subject and we were told to come up with words that we believe unconditional love should be. One of mine was tenacious. I threw it out there not thinking much about it, but now I keep coming back to that word. Love should be tenacious. It should be unwavering and we should persevere through the hardships.

The easy thing to do is give up, except when it’s the hard thing. I don’t believe you should have to have unconditional love for someone who is abusive, and although I’ve never been in that type of situation from what I understand it isn’t always easy to walk away. I have a door-slam mentality when it comes to relationships sometimes. When things begin to go awry and people hurt me I want to get them out of my life as soon as possible. That isn’t the healthy or mature thing to do though. That kind of love is conditional. That love isn’t unwavering or preserving.

I think I have a fascination with unconditional love because it’s so rare. The closest thing to unrestricted love is some parent-child relationships. I say some because there are always those awful parents who kick their kids out for being LGBTQ+, getting pregnant, or are abusive.

Parents who whole-heartedly love their children no matter what are so beautiful to me. I hope I can be that open and loving towards any future children I have. I honestly think my parents would love me no matter what. I have a sibling who has tested that belief time and time again over the past few years and they have continued to stick by their side. As frustrating and painful as it can be, it has taught me a lot of lessons about relationships.

Unconditional love is something I will continue to strive for in all my relationships. Continue to love boldly, whole-heartedly, and unconditionally!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

P.S. The whole time I wrote this, I couldn’t help but sing “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry😉

 

“Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally

Come just as you are to me
Don’t need apologies
Know that you are worthy
I’ll take your bad days with your good
Walk through the storm I would
I do it all because I love you, I love you”

Hope Amongst the Chaos

I have hope among the chaos.

The American people may have voted for racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia, and general bigotry, but I still have hope.

I have  hope in those who have responded with civil disobedience, strength and love. I have faith in those who led protests, and marches, and used their voices to speak up against injustice. Together we are strong, but contrary to popular belief you can be strong on your own.

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You can live in a red state, in the south, or in conservative family and still hold your progressive values. You are allowed to speak up amongst family, friends, and peers to let them know their choices have consequences. Those people will never see their wrong-doings if no one points them out. Be kind, loving, and educate rather than reprimand.

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Giving up will not fix anything. This situation may make us feel like the end is near, but it’s only near if we don’t do anything. I will not give up. I will not stop being loud and opinionated. I will not stand by and let myself or my fellow human beings be assaulted with words or violence. Do something, anything, but I beg you please don’t stand still.

I have hope in God that he will lead me to the right opportunities and people to be able to make a difference and help others. I have hope that God will continue to love and accept all people, no matter how his followers respond to others in this world. I think we should look at this as a wake up call rather than a curse. I knew hate and bigotry was alive and well in America,but I had no idea just how many people would be driven by the irrational fear of people who are different from them.

In the words of Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high.” Respond to others with love, compassion, and respect. Stand up for yourself and others who are discriminated against. I’m not going to tell you everything is going to be okay or it isn’t going to be that bad, because I don’t know that and definitely wouldn’t assume that, but I still have hope.

Have hope amongst the chaos,

Alyssa

That’s Christmas to Me

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is upon us, and in full swing. I hope you’re having a great holiday, and spending time with someone you love. Here are some little things I love about Christmas – and try to remember in order to make stressful holidays more enjoyable.

 

1.The Smell of Fresh Pine

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Every year my family gets a real tree, and the aroma of the fresh pine fills our house – both with holiday joy and lots of sneezing! Plus how cute is Sophie?

 

2. Hot Tea

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I am a tea person, as coffee gives me a migraine. There is nothing better than drinking a cup of warm tea when it’s cold outside. My favorites are green, chai, and citrus.

 

3. Pentatonix

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If loving Pentatonix Christmas albums makes me basic – then so be it 🙂 I have seen them in concert, and they are such talented individuals. My favorite songs are White Winter Hymnal, That’s Christmas to Me, and Hallelujah.  Listening to them always puts me in a cheery and festive mood!

 

4. Dessert Galore

My mom is an amazing baker and cook. The rest of my extended family – not so much. Since that’s the case, my mom makes all the desserts for the holidays. Everything from pie to cookies, and fudge has been made over the years, and it’s always delicious. Calories don’t count at the holidays, right?

 

5. Christmas Movies

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It doesn’t matter how cringey it is, if it’s Christmas related, I’ll probably watch it. We watch “A Christmas Story” every Christmas Eve, which is my favorite holiday themed movie. I also really enjoy Elf, Christmas with the Kranks, and the animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

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6. Family Time

It doesn’t matter how crazy they drive me – I will always love my family. At the end of day I am grateful for everyone of my family members and the time I get to spend with them. Not everyone has a great family support system behind them, and while I can’t imagine how that must feel, I know those people will meet others who will love and appreciate them forever.  I don’t think blood makes family; unconditional love does.

 

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Chuanakah. Let me know how your holiday has been/ is going!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Merry Christmas Eve!

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Merry Christmas Eve, and Happy Chanukah!

If your house is anything like mine, then you’re probably rushing around trying to get everything done for the big day tomorrow. I always prefer Christmas Eve to Christmas Day, because my favorite part of the holiday season is the candlelit service at our church. The festive hymns, and the story of Jesus’s birth always put me in a good mood, and help me to take a step back and examine what Christmas is to me.

Since my faith and religion are very important to me, most of my Christmas celebrations involve talking about Jesus, because it’s kind his day, ya know? I find the story of Jesus’s birth very empowering as a woman. Mary was a virgin, and only a young teenager, yet she brought the greatest gift to the universe into the world. She gave birth in a manger – and all without any pain meds, or medical professionals to help her might I add. Mary was completely obedient to God, even when she afraid, and is responsible for raising the son of God. If that isn’t crazy , I don’t know what is! God could have chosen anyone or any way to bring his son into the world, but he chose a young, woman living in poverty, and I think that’s beautiful. Women weren’t respected back then, and were treated as property, but God gave Mary the greatest task of all, and she responded with nothing but complete faith and trust in the Lord.

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Every Christmas Eve my immediate family always watches “A Christmas Story.”  I could probably quote the whole movie from start to finish, but it’s still one of my favorite traditions we have. We even have a miniature leg lamp as a decoration upstairs during the holidays. Sitting around the TV, while the fireplace going, all laughing and commenting on the movie, always brings me lots of joy. As crazy as my family can drive me, I truly cherish the moments I get to spend with all of them.

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I hope you are having a good holiday season, if you celebrate any holidays in this winter. And if the 24th-25th are just regular days for you, I hope you do something fun, and have a good time. Christmas is always a joyous time for me, and I pray that whatever your situation may be,  you find a little glimmer of happiness or positivity this holiday season.

Wishing You Lots of Love and Joy this Christmas Season,

Alyssa